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Lonely Planet Western Europe

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Western Europe is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Sip fine wine in a Parisian cafe, explore the ruins of Rome or party through the night in the bars of Berlin; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Western Europe and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Western Europe Travel Guide:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including history, art, literature, cinema, music, architecture, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, wine, and customs and etiquette
  • Over 95 maps
  • Covers Austria, Belgium & Luxembourg, Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland & Liechtenstein, and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet and smartphone devices)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Western Europe , our most comprehensive guide to Western Europe, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

  • Looking for just the highlights of Europe? Check out Lonely Planet's Discover Europe, a photo-rich guide to the region's most popular attractions.
  • Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Europe guide.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

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Belgium & Luxembourg

ePub

Stereotypes of comic books, chips and sublime chocolates are just the start in eccentric little Belgium, its self-deprecating people have quietly spent centuries producing some of Europe's finest art and architecture. Bilingual Brussels is the dynamic yet personable EU capital, but also sports what's arguably the world's most beautiful city square. Flat, Flemish Flanders has many other alluring medieval cities, all easily linked by regular train hops. In hilly, French-speaking Wallonia, the attractions are contrastingly rural – castle villages, outdoor activities and extensive cave systems. Independent Luxembourg, the EU's richest country, is compact and hilly with its own wealth of castle villages. The grand duchy's capital city is famed for banking but also sports a fairytale Unesco-listed historic old town. And from the brilliant beers of Belgium to the sparkling wines of Luxembourg's Moselle Valley, there's plenty to lubricate some of Europe's best dining. Welcome to the good life.

 

Britain

ePub

Few places cram so much history, heritage and scenery into such a compact space as Britain. Twelve hours is all you'll need to travel from one end to the other, but you could spend a lifetime exploring – from the ancient relics of Stonehenge and Avebury, to the great medieval cathedrals of Westminster and Canterbury, and the magnificent country houses of Blenheim Palace and Castle Howard.

In fact, Britain isn't really one country at all, but three. While they haven't always been easy bedfellows, the contrasts between England, Wales and Scotland make this a rewarding place to visit. With a wealth of rolling countryside, stately cities, world-class museums and national parks to explore, Britain really is one of Europe's most unmissable destinations. And despite what you may have heard, it doesn't rain all the time – but even so, a umbrella and a raincoat will certainly come in handy.

AEaster–May Fewer crowds, especially in popular spots like Bath, York and Edinburgh.

 

France

ePub

France has so much to entice travellers – renowned gastronomy, iconic sights, splendid art heritage, a fabulous outdoors. You could sample it all in a week, but you'll invariably feel as though you've only scratched the surface of this big country.

Visiting France is certainly about seeing the big sights, but it's just as much about savouring life's little pleasures: a stroll through an elegant city square, a coffee on a sunny pavement terrace, a meal that lasts well into the afternoon or night, a scenic drive punctuated with photo stops and impromptu farm or vineyard visits. The French are big on their art de vivre (art of living) and you should embrace it too.

ADec–Mar Christmas markets in Alsace, snow-packed action in the Alps and truffles in the south.

AApr–Jun France at springtime best, with good weather and no crowds.

ASep Cooling temperatures, abundant local produce and the vendange (grape harvest).

 

Germany

ePub

Prepare for a roller coaster of feasts, treats and temptations as you take in Germany's soul-stirring scenery, spirit-lifting culture, old and bold architecture, big-city beauties, romantic castles and towns with half-timbered buildings.

Few countries have had as much impact on the world as Germany, which has given us the printing press, the automobile, aspirin and MP3 technology. This is the birthplace of Martin Luther, Albert Einstein and Karl Marx, of Bach, Beethoven, the Brothers Grimm and other heavyweights who have left their mark on human history.

Germany's story-book landscapes will also likely leave an even bigger imprint on your memories. There's something undeniably artistic in the way the scenery unfolds from the windswept maritime north to the off-the-charts splendour of the Alps. As much fun as it may be to rev up the engines on the autobahn, do slow down to better appreciate this complex and fascinating country.

AJun–Aug Warm summers cause Germans to shed their clothes; night never seems to come.

 

Greece Ελλάδα

ePub

The alluring combination of history and ravishing beauty that has made Greece one of the most popular destinations on the planet always seems to beckon. Within easy reach of magnificent archaeological sites such as the Acropolis, Delphi, Delos and Knossos are breathtaking beaches and relaxed tavernas serving everything from ouzo to octopus. Hiking trails criss-cross Mt Olympus, the Zagorohoria and islands like Crete and Corfu.

Wanderers can island-hop to their heart's content (each island has its own character), while party types can enjoy pulsating nightlife in Greece's vibrant modern cities and on islands such as Mykonos and Santorini. Add welcoming locals with an enticing culture to the mix and it's easy to see why most visitors head home vowing to come back. Travellers to Greece inevitably end up with a favourite site they long to return to – get out there and find yours.

AMay & Jun Greece opens the shutters in time for Orthodox Easter; the best months to visit.

 

Ireland

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Few countries have an image so plagued by cliché. From shamrocks and shillelaghs (Irish fighting sticks) to leprechauns and loveable rogues, there's a plethora of platitudes to wade through before you reach the real Ireland.

But it's well worth looking beyond the tourist tat, for the Emerald Isle is one of Europe's gems, a scenic extravaganza of lakes, mountains, sea and sky. From picture-postcard County Kerry to the rugged coastline of Northern Ireland (part of the UK, distinct from the Republic of Ireland), there are countless opportunities to get outdoors and explore, whether cycling the Causeway Coast or hiking the hills of Killarney and Connemara.

There are cultural pleasures too in the land of Joyce and Yeats, U2 and the Undertones. Dublin, Cork and Belfast all have world-class art galleries and museums, while you can enjoy foot-stomping traditional music in the bars of Galway and Killarney. So push aside the shamrocks and experience the real Ireland.

ALate Mar Spring flowers everywhere, landscape is greening, St Patrick's Day festivities beckon.

 

Italy

ePub

A favourite destination since the days of the 18th-century Grand Tour, Italy may appear to hold few surprises. Its iconic monuments and masterpieces are known the world over, while cities like Rome, Florence and Venice need no introduction.

Yet Italy is far more than the sum of its sights. Its fiercely proud regions maintain customs and culinary traditions dating back centuries, resulting in passionate festivals and delectable food at every turn. And then there are those timeless landscapes, from Tuscany's gentle hillsides to icy Alpine peaks, vertiginous coastlines and spitting southern volcanoes.

Drama is never far away in Italy and its theatrical streets and piazzas provide endless people-watching, ideally over a leisurely lunch or cool evening drink. This is, after all, the land of dolce far niente (sweet idleness) where simply hanging out is a pleasure and time seems to matter just that little bit less.

AApr & May Perfect spring weather; ideal for exploring vibrant cities and blooming countryside.

 

The Netherlands

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Old and new intertwine in the Netherlands. The legacies of great Dutch artists Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh, beautiful 17th-century canals, windmills, tulips and quaint brown cafes lit by flickering candles coexist with ground-breaking contemporary architecture, cutting-edge fashion, homewares, design and food scenes, phenomenal nightlife and a progressive mindset.

Much of the Netherlands is famously below sea level and the pancake-flat landscape offers idyllic cycling. Locals live on bicycles and you can too. Rental outlets are ubiquitous throughout the country, which is crisscrossed with dedicated cycling paths.

Allow plenty of time to revel in the magical, multifaceted capital Amsterdam, to venture further afield to charming canal-laced towns such as Leiden and Delft, and to check out Dutch cities like exquisite Maastricht, with its city walls, ancient churches and grand squares, and the pulsing port city of Rotterdam, currently undergoing an urban renaissance. It's a very big small country.

 

Portugal

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With medieval castles, frozen-in-time villages, captivating cities and golden-sand bays, the Portuguese experience can mean many things. History, terrific food and wine, lyrical scenery and all-night partying are just the beginning.

Portugal's cinematically beautiful capital, Lisbon, and its soulful northern rival, Porto, are two of Europe's most charismatic cities. Both are a joy to stroll, with gorgeous river views, rattling trams and tangled lanes hiding boutiques and vintage shops, new-wave bars, and a seductive mix of restaurants, fado (traditional Portuguese song) clubs and open-air cafes.

Beyond the cities, Portugal's landscape unfolds in all its beauty. Here, you can stay overnight in converted hilltop fortresses fronting age-old vineyards, hike amid granite peaks or explore medieval villages in the little-visited hinterland. More than 800km of coast shelters some of Europe's best beaches. You can gaze out over dramatic end-of-the-world cliffs, surf Atlantic breaks off dune-covered beaches or laze on sandy islands fronting the ocean.

 

Spain

ePub

Passionate, sophisticated and devoted to living the good life, Spain is at once a stereotype come to life and a country more diverse than you ever imagined.

Spanish landscapes stir the soul, from the jagged Pyrenees and wildly beautiful cliffs of the Atlantic northwest to charming Mediterranean coves, while astonishing architecture spans the ages at seemingly every turn. Spain's cities march to a beguiling beat, rushing headlong into the 21st century even as timeless villages serve as beautiful signposts to Old Spain. And then there's one of Europe's most celebrated (and varied) gastronomic scenes.

But, above all, Spain lives very much in the present. Perhaps you'll sense it along a crowded after-midnight street when all the world has come out to play. Or maybe that moment will come when a flamenco performer touches something deep in your soul. Whenever it happens, you'll find yourself nodding in recognition: this is Spain.

AMar–Apr Spring wildflowers, Semana Santa processions and mild southern temps.

 

Switzerland

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What giddy romance Zermatt, St Moritz and other glitterati-encrusted names evoke. This is Sonderfall Schweiz (‘special-case Switzerland’), a privileged neutral country set apart from others, proudly idiosyncratic, insular and unique. It's blessed with gargantuan cultural diversity: its four official languages alone speak volumes.

The Swiss don’t do half measures: Zürich, their most gregarious urban centre, has cutting-edge art, legendary nightlife and one of the world’s highest living standards. The national passion for sharing the great outdoors provides access (by public transport, no less!) to some of the world's most inspiring panoramic experiences.

So don’t depend just on your postcard images of Bern’s and Lucerne's chocolate-box architecture, the majestic Matterhorn or those pristine lakes – Switzerland is a place so outrageously beautiful it simply must be seen to be believed.

ADec–early Apr Carve through powder and eat fondue at an alpine resort.

 

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